Note Found in Car of 76-Year-Old Had Rescuers on Immediate Manhunt at National Park


National parks are some of the most beautiful areas of this country. There are 58 national parks in the United States, and so many of them have an unsung beauty that it is hard to pick just one to explore.

One of my favorites is Yosemite National Park in California, and I have fond memories hiking through the backcountry and watching the sunrise from on top of Half Dome.

Another California national park that is a must-see is the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. It is 792,510 acres and just a few hours from Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

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Seventy-six-year-old David Sewell decided to go explore some of the park by himself on April 21.

Now, this is not normally an issue for experienced hikers, but Sewell has numerous health issues and is legally blind, according to his daughter.

Rangers found his silver, Honda Odyssey around 8 p.m. that evening in the Quail Springs parking lot with a note inside indicating that he departed for his hike to an “unspecified location” at 8:45 a.m. and if he was not back by Sunday, April 22, “he would need assistance.”

After he didn’t return, a search team assembled Monday morning.

“Search and rescue personnel started operations on Monday at 6:45 am. Currently there are approximately 50 searchers, two K-9 teams as well as fixed and rotary wing air support from California Highway Patrol involved in the search,” the National Park Service said in a news release.

Three days later, Sewell was found around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. “Due to the distance and nature of the terrain,” he was evacuated out of the park by helicopter before being transported to a hospital in Palm Springs.

“It’s a miracle … He was awake, conscious and talking to rescuers when they found him,” park spokesman George Land told the Los Angeles Times. “He had been up there for about three days without water.”

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Although his medical conditions are not known at this time, he is very lucky to have survived that long in the desert without water.

“The California Highway Patrol and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department provided valuable aid and assistance to park search and rescue operations,” the National Park Service concluded in their news release, expressing gratitude for the help in locating the elderly man.

This just goes to show that if you are going to go exploring on your own, bring plenty of water and have a backup plan in case you might need assistance.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith